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L.A. Film Production Spikes in 1st Quarter

April 04, 2001|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Film production soared more than 60% in Los Angeles during March compared with a year ago as studios rushed to finish projects before possible strikes by actors and writers, according to numbers released Tuesday by the area's primary film permit agency.

Entertainment Industry Development Corp. figures showed that the number of days of film production totaled 1,066 during the month, compared with 664 a year earlier. Film production days were up 45% in the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year.

EIDC figures are further evidence of how seriously studios take the strike threat and the extent to which they have been ramping up production since Hollywood's labor storm clouds started forming last summer.

Production has been at a blistering level since last summer as studios scramble to finish filming ahead of strike deadlines.

Although new projects are beginning to slow dramatically over the last week or two, officials expect work on films already put into motion to continue unabated in the weeks leading up to July 1, the earliest date actors could strike after their contract expires.

"They're pushing stuff through as fast as they can go," said EIDC President Cody Cluff.

Writers could strike as early as May 2 after their contract expires. The effect of a walkout by writers would be felt earliest in television, where scripted shows rely on constant streams of scripts.

Overall, permits for films, commercials, TV shows and music videos were up 17% for the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2000, and were up 12% in March alone. Television edged up 5% during the month. Permits for commercials were off 13%, which the EIDC attributed to the advertising industry slowdown.

Although the EIDC issues permits only for production that takes place on the streets and in public places for most of Los Angeles County, the numbers are considered a good barometer of film activity.

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